Michael came to visit me. He is my nephew, and I am his Aunt Wendy. I live in the country in a farmhouse that is so old that every floor tilts a different way; and you feel like you are walking on the deck of a ship as you go from room to room. During Michael's visit, we tried to do interesting things, like see a movie on dinosaurs. Once, we went to a temple that had a huge statue of Buddha. Michael noticed that people had left small candies and fruit for the Buddha as a way to express their respect for him.
Michael loved to read, and he had brought a children's Bible with him that had brightly drawn pictures of Bible stories. Though Michael was chatty about a lot of things, he was very quiet about God and religion.
One night when I was tucking him in at bedtime, he shared a sentence from Psalms: "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them" (119:165). It seemed to me this was a great prayer, because it worked in two different ways. First, it says you will have great peace when you trust God and understand that His laws are loving, not hard to follow. Next, it says that a person who sees God's laws as something good will never feel resentful or offended about being obedient to them.
Then when we looked at Michael's Bible, we began to talk a little about the story of creation in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Michael suddenly jumped out of his makeshift bed on the couch and began to pace up and down the room, struggling with something. (He may have even pounded his fist in his hand.) Some built-up anger came out, and Michael said with a break in his voice, "God lied!"
The whole story came pouring out. Adam and Eve were told not to eat of the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden of Eden, or they would surely die. The serpent convinced Eve to take a bite, she gave some to Adam, and guess what? They didn't die - at least not that very second. Michael felt that they had been tricked by God, because they didn't die after all.
Whew, where to begin? I remembered the verse, "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them." I wanted Michael to feel at peace. "Well," I said, "even though they didn't die right then, they thought of themselves as mortal, as having a beginning and ending, being born and dying, rather than as always living in the garden and being incapable of dying." I also pointed out that Adam and Eve were characters in a story in the second chapter of Genesis, to teach people never to believe a lie (the serpent). The first chapter of Genesis says, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (Gen. 1:27).
Michael and I agreed that the male and female in the first chapter must have been eternal since they were made in God's image. We also agreed that a good God, like a good parent, would never give a "test" to his children that would result in their eventual dying, as with Adam and Eve.
The more we spoke of the difference between chapter one and chapter two, the clearer it was to Michael that either one or the other was true, but both could not be true. Then we had just a mini-explosion. He said, "Well, people should be told this! There should be a warning right in the Bible that there are two different creation stories told side by side, so little kids don't go around wondering if God was a liar!"
We snuggled back down for his good-night tuck-in, and agreed that each one of us could read the Bible and love it for the many ways it inspires and gives messages, morals, and examples to meet our daily needs. Every person has a chance to appreciate the spiritual meaning in the Bible, and that's what has made it a special book for so many people, for so many years.
There is but one
creator and one creation.
Mary Baker Eddy
(founder of the Monitor)